Why would i buy it?
- Outright performance
- Ride and handling balance
- Comfort, equipment, and luxury
Why would i avoid it?
- Expected to be pricey
- Limited ground clearance with full load
- Shallow boot
In our book, the new, made-in-India BMW M340i is all the 3 Series you’d ever want or need. It is luxurious, quiet, and comfortable. It rides beautifully, sounds gorgeous, and revs effortlessly. And, it is wonderful to do long-distance trips in.
And, lest we forget, it is supremely involving and liberating to drive around corners. Yes, it doesn’t have the most usable boot. And it might struggle over a few speed breakers when fully loaded. But, as a car to drive and live with it, it is excellent.
Engine and Performance
One of the biggest pluses of the BMW M340i is how it justifies both the M and the 3 tags. With aclaimed 0-100kmph time of 4.4 seconds, it is properly fast! It also sounds brilliant. And the effortlessness with which it gathers and holds three digit speeds, tends to redefine your sense of speed. But when not in a hurry, the M340i is a quiet, relaxing, undemanding thing to drive around. All one needs is to tap the throttle, and it rides its massive torque curve with utmost elegance.
The real hero here, of course, is the three-litre, turbocharged six cylinder inline petrol engine. It makes 500Nm of torque! That’s some grunt in an average sized road going saloon. Power too, at a little under 400bhp, is quite impressive. Furthermore, the engine has an effortless and smooth demeanour to it. No matter what you ask of it, it delivers with utmost ease. It revs cleanly and hurriedly to its redline. And it has an alert but linear throttle response.
The engine is mated to an eight speed automatic gearbox. It comes with paddle shifters, and it changes its behaviour to suit the driving mode one selects. There are three driving modes, by the way - there’s Eco Pro, which is best avoided. There’s Comfort for 90 per cent of your motoring needs. And then there’s Sport. The gearbox, the steering and the exhaust take on a sporty note in the latter. And it is without doubt the pick of the lot.
So, to truly enjoy the M340i, one must shift to Sport mode. Then, thanks to the louder exhaust note in Sport, one can immediately connect the throttle inputs with the emanating sound. The more you press on the throttle, the higher the engine revs, and the nicer the exhaust sounds. And the way it gathers speed is just so enjoyable, you can’t help but floor the throttle at any given opportunity.
But when you want to take things easy, switch to Comfort, and the M340i turns into a quiet, relaxing, easy to live with companion that seems eager to please you.
Ride and Handling
The ride again is surprisingly good. It’s not plush or overly absorbent. But it is pliant. Pliant enough to tell you what’s happening underneath, but beautifully damped nonetheless to never feel uncomfortable, jarring, or bouncy. As for the handling, with its intelligent all wheel drive system, quick steering responses, and the expertly setup suspension, the M340i goes around corners with such sublimity, intuitiveness, and control, you just can’t help falling for the car.
So when you chance upon a twisty road, no matter what mode, the M340i turns into a mood lifter. It’s so agile and planted and capable, you end up going around corners faster than you intended to. And here’s the lovely bit - the harder you drive, the better the M340i feels.
Yes, it rolls a bit. And it tends to move about slightly on the limit. But, the way the electronics work, along with the sports differential, the M suspension, and the smart all wheel drive system, these never let you go into a dramatic under or oversteer scenario. These work together to get you out of a corner with as much poise, velocity and ferocity as possible!
It’s absolutely wonderful.
Interior Space and Quality
Inside, differentiating the M340i from the regular entry level 3 Series, are bits and bobs like the M Sport steering wheel, sportier front seats, seatbelts with M colour coding, and blue stitching from the doors to the seats. And there’s the door scuff plate which reminds what car you're getting into as well. Otherwise, it is the 3 Series all through. The look and feel of the interior is luxurious. The quality is top notch. And everything you touch and operate functions exactly as you’d expect it to - with that positive click and feedback.
The front seats are unique to the M340i, though. And not only are these supportive and accommodating, but these come with loads of adjustability too. So apart from fore and aft, height, and seat squab and backrest adjustment, one can also adjust the side bolstering on the front two seats. Want to spend long hours commuting or travelling in the M340i? Call dibs for the front.
The rear seats aren’t exactly bad either. These are cushy, and the backrest angle feels right too. But what it needs, is better thigh support. Otherwise, you get central and door armrests, decent space to put away your personal things like a wallet and a phone, or even a coffee cup or a water bottle. Space again, is pretty good - good head and knee room, and with just two at the back, there’s enough shoulder and elbow room as well. Packing three in the rear though, is going to be tight. And uncomfortable.
Boot space, however, isn’t very handy. The boot is wide and deep, and the opening itself is pretty big. But, courtesy the spare tyre, the boot can’t hold anything bulky. There’s a hint of flexibility offered by the rear seats nonetheless, thanks to their 40:20:40 split and fold functionality.
Features and Safety
Feature-wise, the 340i is well endowed. You get electric seats for both the front passengers with a fair bit of adjustment options. There’s a multifunctional steering wheel that adjusts for reach and rake. You get a three-zone climate control system complete with rear AC vents. There’s a plethora of cup and bottle holders and charging options all around. And the 340i also gets wireless charging. Plus, there’s HUD that’s offered as standard.
The multimedia system is elaborate too. There’s wireless connectivity for Apple CarPlay; it gets voice commands; you have Bluetooth connectivity, of course; and it throws up decent car related info too, all in high def animation.
There’s an elaborate suite of safety and driver assistance systems on board as well. The M340i gets six airbags, stability control that can either be set for leniency or turned off completely. There’s dynamic traction control, cornering brake control, and typical of a BMW - runflat tyres.
Driver assistance systems include cruise control, and parking assistance that picks the parking spot for you and steers the car into it as well.
So what is the M340i? In the simplest terms - it is the BMW M3 in a saner, more politically correct, and useable guise. It’s an M3 for the more thoughtful, but also the equally enthusiastic.
The M340i is everything and much more that one expects a 3 Series to be. And that makes it very difficult proposition to refuse. The only challenge, really, is its expected price. To buy one you’d need something in the region of Rs 60-65 lakh, which makes it over 10 lakh more expensive than the current top spec regular wheelbase-d 3 Series - the 330i M Sport.
Guess brilliance does come at a price...
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi